My family has been busy with wrestling season. David and Caleb are both wrestling on the High School team, with my husband as the head Coach. Each Saturday is spent at various gyms across Connecticut for their tournaments, and each Sunday is spent with Seth at a youth tournament.

In wrestling there is a lot of waiting, and I have been carrying around books to pass the time. I found and bought The Body, A Guide for Occupants, by Bill Bryson at the book store about a month ago and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. The chapters include; “How to Build a Human”, “The Outside: Skin and Hair”, “Microbial You”, “The Brain”, “The Head”, “Down the Hatch: The Mouth and Throat”, “The Heart and Blood”, and so on.

UTTERLY FASCINATING, although not written in a spiritual perspective, I still found myself constantly praising God, often with tears in my eyes. The most thrilling for me was the continual phrase, “no one knows why, but……..”

Indeed, with all that has been discovered about the human body, there is still SO MUCH MYSTERY.

Only God alone could fashion and create something so complex that we can never understand it. I believe that even if extensive research and study continues on for another 2,000 years, Doctors and Scientists will still be baffled by one thing or another.

It’s humorous, too, to think that throughout time we have made our “discoveries”, only to find some years later that The Important Discovery ……. was…… wrong!

Ah, humility. It feels so good.

Less of me, more of Thee, dear Jesus.

But that’s not what I’m here to tell you!

I read and I read all about The Body, pages and pages worth. And one day I found myself……. (not because of the book but because of life in general)………… I found myself in tears and feeling quite “less than”. My warped little mind was telling me cruel things; “The only job you had with an actual paycheck was as a teen, picking berries. You have little value in the grand scheme of things. You’re tired. You’re done and you really don’t matter much.”

I wasn’t seeing rewards of my labors, alas, the laundry is never done, the house is never clean and any accomplishment within the home is short-lived (and only as long as the time between meals). I provide endless service with no tangible reward.


While WORK, good honest WORK, has many rewards, what came to mind later on that day through the encouragement of a friend, was a reminder of who God made me to be, which is to say, not so much a worker out there in the world (NOT A BAD THING AT ALL) but chiefly, a lover, an encourager, a relationship-maker.

I’m not bragging or perfect at it. I’m a mess, really.

But isn’t that part of relationships? Sharing the mess?

I matter.

You matter.

In the last week, I have had numerous loved ones reach out to me for no reason at all but to encourage me and say hello. To touch, make a connection, remind me that I am someone special.

AND IT FELT SO GOOD, better than the 100 dollars I had in my purse recently and briefly (for wrestling concessions).

I opened a package yesterday and after looking at it and reading the letter I just sat in my chair lost in the gift of it all. “What’s wrong?” my husband asked. “I don’t know, I guess I just feel so humbled.” tears.

A letter on Facebook, texts, letter in the mail, packages in the mail, each totally unexpected!

To me, these things matter more than anything.

On Saturday, sitting in the middle of a noisy, smelly gym, I read the end of my Body book. The chapter was literally titled, “The End”. With my chin in my hand, I read about aging and how “no one knows” how to slow it down, “no one knows” the exact combination of exercise, nutrition, or lifestyle to reach the highest number of years possible before finally dying. I read about cells and the idea “that some cells possess some form of memory and can count down toward their own extermination……..”


“…… a team of researchers at the University of California at San Francisco discovered that stretches of specialized DNA at the end of each chromosome called TELOMERES fulfill the role of tallying device. With each cell division, telomeres shorten until eventually they reach a predetermined length and the cell dies or becomes inactive. It was hailed as the secret of aging. Arrest the shortening of telomeres and you could stop cell aging in it’s tracks.” pg 371

(everyone got all excited until the reality settled in that there is a lot more to aging than telomere shortening, which is “only a small part of the process”.)


Three pages later, I read:

“Some people live longer than they ought to by any known measures. For example, Costa Ricans have only about one-fifth the personal wealth of Americans, and have poorer health care, but live longer. Moreover, people in one of the poorest regions of Costa Rica, the Nicoya Peninsula, live longest of all, even though they have much higher rates of obesity and hypertension. They also have longer telomeres. The theory is that they benefit from closer social bonds and family relationships. Curiously, it was found that if they live alone or don’t see a child at least once a week, the telomere length advantage vanishes. It is an extraordinary fact that having good and loving relationships physically alters your DNA. Conversely, a 2010 U.S. study found, not having such relationships doubles your risk of dying from any cause.” pg 377

(read that 10 more times)

My mind was blown, and yet, it all made perfect sense.

What is God all about? relationships
Why is sin so terrible? it ruins relationships
What makes life worth living? relationships


(name that movie?)

On Sunday, my husband taught Sunday School. He did a wonderful job, he was bright and knowledgable and important and I was proud of him. But when the class was over, I was brought to my knees (figuratively) by someone approaching me. I was fully expecting the ever-typical “Tell your husband I loved his lesson” comment (which I am happy to hear!) but she didn’t say that. What she said was this: “Shanda, during the class I couldn’t stop looking over at you and your son. He was so sweet snuggling up next to you, it was so precious and I just had to tell you.”

What she saw was a relationship. Between a mother and a son. Eleven years (it was his birthday) of bonding. I’ve cared for this child, body, mind, and soul. I’ve poured endless love into his little life. I’ve hugged, consoled, snuggled, tucked into bed, wiped noses, nursed, calmed, soothed, understood, and provided DEVOTEDLY to him (and his six siblings) and the rewards, ah the rewards, are NOT monetary, and more priceless than gold. My reward in loving him has been in the way he has responded to my love. He wants me, he comes to me for warmth, and on his birthday he didn’t want to go to his class because he wanted to stay with his mama.

The biggest hurts in my life have been trying and trying to love people who just cannot seem to respond.

I know you understand. This is universal. This is real, this is important and we’ve all been there, experiencing the highs and lows of loving people. We’ve all made mistakes with our loved ones, but in that way we have experienced grace upon grace.

We’ve all been hurt by people, but in that way we have experienced the DISPENSING of GRACE. And, in my opinion, although it hurts like heck, giving grace is better than cutting ties.

Just think of all the times we’ve failed God, and yet He never leaves us or forsakes us.

He is my example.

If I was asked “Why do you love me so much when you know I could break your heart?”

I would say, “Because that is how Christ loves me.”

Is this all wrapped up neatly and finished with a bow? No. My words are inadequate, my life is messy, I can’t see things clearly, and yet………

…….these are my thoughts, my pondering, and I give them to you.

I love you, friends. Thank you for being here and being interested enough to read my ramblings, taking what is worth taking, and “with a breath of kindness, blowing the rest away”.

“We don’t see yet things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing Him directly just as He knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.” I Corinthians 13

7 thoughts on “telomeres//relationships

  1. Just so beautiful! You matter. I matter. Grace ,mercy ,compassion, and love for others. Relationships,communion fellowship. To be His hands and feet to others,and to each other. No money or material possessions can do what that can. You are lifted up,and loved by Him. โค๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ’๐Ÿฆ‹

  2. So Happy to have you back on your blog …this one is so well written and thought provoking ..thanks so much …I stopped work at 23 to have my first child I have 2 now grown up wonderful men ..and I sometimes wonder what worth I have Husband goes off to work at 5am and I am asleep …but I do know that I am a very loving Mother , still much needed even though lots of it is via FaceTime these days …and I know that my Husband loves me staying at home …I have a wonderful job that does have a pay check’s being a loving Wife, Best Friend, Mother, comforter, housekeeper, cook, gardener, bookkeeper,seamstress etc.. etc….and my pay check is my Husband’s smile as he comes through the door, the love and laughter with him and my Children and the many Blessings from God …. You have so much worth Shanda being all of the above and with 7 Children as well …You have a beautiful life that your loved ones benefit from having you home whenever they need you ..Happy Days ….

  3. It’s so good to see you back. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m relieved that all is well. My mind was running rampant with possible scenarios. (I’m very good at that.) ๐Ÿ™‚

    Bill Bryson wrote, “A Walk In The Woods,” and it was quite funny. It is about his attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail, and it was made into a movie. I can say it was not quite the true thru-hiking experience, but still funny. ๐Ÿ™‚ย  I’ve never read any of his other books. This one you are reading sounds quite fascinating.

    You are so blessed to have come from (and consequently have made for yourself) a healthy, supportive,ย  loving family. I think that is why I love your blog so much. It is healthy love demonstrated in a real way. To someone who grew up without that, it is nectar to the soul.

    Thank you for your post! It was so good to hear from you again.

    Thanks, also, for being you. ๐Ÿ™‚

    That reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:

    โ€œToday you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.โ€

  4. All I can say is Amen! I was so blessed to be able to stay home with my children and be a wife and mommy. That’s all I ever wanted to be. True, we made do with a lot less, but it was worth it. Now that my husband is gone, my children continue to bless me. I’m having a grand-daughter and her husband and 2 little girls over for tacos tonight. She’s bringing dessert.

  5. hi shanda!!!……..i so missed you in january and so happy to hear from you again. it was a beautiful post worth waiting for โค๏ธ

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